Packers vs. Ravens: Takeaways from Baltimore's 19-17 Loss to Green Bay
The Baltimore Ravens mounted a furious comeback at home, but it was too little, too late as they fell to the Green Bay Packers 19-17. This slideshow details the most important things to take away from a close game against one of the NFL's best.
Some things we already knew (like the toothlessness of the running game), and some things were revealed (like the emergence of Tandon Doss).
Take a look at the most crucial developments from Sunday's contest.
Something Has to Change in the Running Game
This isn't a new development, but it's astonishing to look at Baltimore's rushing numbers after six weeks.
The Ravens are averaging 78 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry. The running backs repeatedly got stuffed on first and second downs, putting the offense in 3rd-and-long situations.
Baltimore faced 14 third downs, and 11 of them were seven yards or longer—nine of which were 10 yards or longer.
Consequently, it converted only two of those 14 third downs, a ratio that will rarely lead to a winning effort.
The offense will never get going if it has to face such terrible circumstances, and it's no coincidence that the first drive with some effective running resulted in a touchdown.
This is not a small problem that will sort itself out over time. The Ravens have had six weeks, and it is not getting better.
Something has to change in the running game moving forward. It might be a personnel move like switching out Gino Gradkowski for A.Q. Shipley.
Additionally, it might be a matter of altering the play-calling since the gains were bigger on the outside as opposed to running up the middle where the interior of the offensive line has been manhandled.
Eugene Monroe Played Well
After Bryant McKinnie's dreadful performance in Week 5, Eugene Monroe got the start at left tackle. He had just over a week to acclimate to his new team, and he played well in his first game.
His one bad play unfortunately resulted in the Joe Flacco fumble, but apart from that, he did a good job in pass protection.
It's very early, but the trade looks like another fantastic move by general manager Ozzie Newsome. Monroe may not solidify the entire offensive line, but he looks much better than McKinnie.
If Baltimore is able to sign him to a long-term extension, it may have found its left tackle to protect Flacco for the duration of his $120 million contract.
There Are Receiving Weapons Other Than Torrey Smith
Heading into Week 6, Torrey Smith was the only receiver in the NFL to record over 85 yards in every game. Facing a Green Bay Packers defense that was ranked 26th against the pass, it looked like he would have a good chance to extend that streak.
Alas, it was not to be, as the Packers secondary focused on Smith, and he caught just one ball for 12 yards.
Despite this, Joe Flacco still managed to throw for 342 yards. A number of other receivers played very well, and that is a promising sign for the Ravens offense moving forward.
Their performance must be taken with a grain of salt, considering how poor the Green Bay defense has been against the pass. If these receivers can continue to make plays and build chemistry with Flacco, however, the offense could receive a much-needed jolt of energy.
Questionable Coaching Decisions
Head coach John Harbaugh made two decisions that backfired and had a large impact on the Ravens losing the game. To be fair, hindsight is 20/20, and if those calls had worked, we would probably be applauding Harbaugh for the "gutsy decisions."
It's not often that Harbaugh's judgment is called into question, but he deserves to take a large portion of the blame for the loss.
The first instance was the play choice on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The decision to go for it was aggressive, but not stupid.
The failed conversion backed the Packers up, they went three-and-out, and the Ravens got the ball with good field position.
The problem wasn't the decision, but the play that was called. The running game had experienced zero success up to that point—literally, the Ravens had run for zero yards.
Furthermore, Baltimore had just tried to run it in on the first three downs from the 5-yard line and failed each time. The decision to go for it on fourth down was aggressive, but the play call wasn't.
The second questionable call was at the end of the first half when Mason Crosby missed a 44-yard field goal. Baltimore could have taken a knee with 20 seconds left, gone into halftime down three and started the second half with the ball.
Instead, the Ravens tried to get into field-goal range. Flacco was sacked and fumbled the ball, which gave Green Bay another chance at a field goal and a six-point lead.
Jacoby Jones Is Back
When a player returns from injury, it's always important to determine whether he is completely recovered and if he shows any signs of rust. Jacoby Jones didn't.
Jones missed just four games with his sprained MCL, and he already looks like the Jacoby Jones of yesteryear.
We saw him handle kick-return duties (including an attempt to return a ball that he caught nine yards deep in the end zone) and look dangerous while doing so.
We also saw him make a few plays on offense, including scoring a touchdown.
His return is critical for the Ravens, since he provides a big-play threat and will be a huge help for a struggling offense.
This Team Is Mentally Tough
On a day where coach Harbaugh's decision making comes under fire, you can only take your hat off to him for instilling such mental fortitude in his team.
In their last two losses, the Ravens had a chance to win the game despite playing terribly and not deserving to be anywhere close to victory.
This team doesn't give up, and it believes in its ability to come back and win games. It didn't pay off Sunday since the comeback started a little late, but for the Ravens to even be in the game was remarkable.
Tandon Doss Is a New Man
Doss' 2013 season has been an emotional roller coaster. He entered the year with the expectation that he would be a starting wide receiver, but he didn't impress in preseason and was subsequently cut.
He cleared waivers and was then re-signed by the Ravens as insurance after Jacoby Jones was injured.
Doss was used primarily as a punt returner, a role in which he has excelled. He returned a punt for 82 yards and a score against the Houston Texans, and he leads the league in yards per return.
Since that touchdown, he has regained his confidence and is now making plays on offense. He made a number of impressive catches against the Miami Dolphins, and in Week 6, he caught four passes for 99 yards (including the miraculous 63-yard pass on 4th-and-21).
He is showing the great catching ability that made Baltimore draft him, and if his renewed confidence continues, he could become a reliable move-the-chains type of receiver—something that Joe Flacco is sorely missing without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.